Social media has kept many of us sane during the COVID lockdown.

Whether it’s recreating dance moves for TikTok, following fitness classes on Facebook Live or scrolling through memes bemoaning lockdown life, it’s been a cause of entertainment at a time when we’ve definitely needed it the most.

The problem is, constant scrolling can also quickly turn into a guilt-fest as we see people showing off that they have become much fitter or documenting how many miles they have been running for charity.

This is the last thing you need when you’ve just about managed to get the kids up and dressed, juggling home schooling and working from home, let alone navigating a global pandemic.

So, as restrictions begin to be lifted and life returns to some kind of ‘normality’, maybe it’s time to ditch our old lockdown media pal and concentrate on the present?

Forgive yourself for a fitness dip
Lots of trainers wouldn’t allow their clients to come up with excuses as to why they haven’t kept up with fitness or missed a session.

But the fact of the matter is COVID has presented us with pretty exceptional circumstances. It is entirely justifiable that we have let our health and fitness drop, whether you are used to running around after the kids or you are a regular gym goer.

Don’t worry! This is completely normal considering the change in activity your body has experienced over the past six months. If we move less, then our muscles are going to get weaker and become tired more quickly.

Don’t feel guilty, feel motivated. Because you know you can get back on track. Start small, instead of going to the park for an hour’s kick about with the kids, keep it a little shorter at first and build exercise back up. Remember – if a marathon runner took a year off, they wouldn’t expect to run a PB on their first outing.

Don’t compare!
Instagram feeds during lockdown are filled with selfies of celebrities showing off their beach bodies by their pools or exceptional achievers who have run a marathon a week during lockdown.

But don’t beat yourself up, just because they are shouting about their achievements it doesn’t make yours any less. A cycle to the shops or a walk to the park with the kids may seem less ‘instagrammable’ but it’s still a worthwhile form of activity and will come with its own health benefits.

Government guidelines suggest adults should be doing about 30 minutes exercise a day, while kids should be doing an hour. It doesn’t have to be running or high intensity activity, as long as your heart begins to beat a little quicker and your breathing gets harder you are doing yourself good.

If you do fancy a challenge, it’s not too late to start. People used lockdown as an opportunity to do things they hadn’t had chance to do before, but now things are easing it simply gives you a wider choice when it comes to activities such as swimming or going to a new gym class.

Don’t get stressed, get moving!
Lockdown has been an incredibly stressful time, whether it’s been work, finances, childcare or the lack of freedom to do what you know and love. And as rules begin to be relaxed it’s entirely likely that you will begin to feel anxious about getting back into the ‘real world’ again.

Remember, exercise is a great stress reliever, and while you may feel a little worried about heading to a swimming pool or public gym, a long walk or run can help build your confidence and relieve some of the stress that has built up.

As well as helping you relax and unwind, you will also find that increasing your activity will ensure you sleep better and concentrate more, which of course is important for yourself and your kids if you are heading back into the office or school.

Any form of exercise is good for the brain and will be a good stress reliever. Being part of a team or taking part in a fitness class with friends, while respecting social distancing measures, is a great way to get you laughing and enjoying yourself, while running, swimming and walking have great meditative effects, helping relax you and keep you focussed, so it’s all doing you good.

And don’t forget – kids get stressed too and are also highly likely to be affected by what’s happening in the world, so be sure to include them in your activities too. A game of football, a walk up a hill or a game of hide and seek will do the whole family wonders!

Whether you have been on furlough, frantically juggling family life or the lockdown has affected your mental health, the return to ‘normality’ will come with its challenges.

If the social media feed that kept you going is now causing negative thoughts, leave it behind and concentrate on what’s to come!